MY FIRST DATE IN JAPAN
It was with a Japanese guy. We met in Akihabara to shop for used videogames. This would have been a perfect date, actually, if there had been any hint of chemistry or attraction. I bought Shenmue (in Japanese) for Dreamcast for 100 yen.
Later on, he tried to hold my hand on the way to dinner. This was extremely disconcerting to me, since I had not really shown any interest in him beyond politeness. I yanked my hand away, which I had to do rather forcefully, since he was pretty intent on holding it.
“Are you embarrassed?”
“No, I just don’t want to.”
At dinner, I ordered vegetables and chicken. He ordered a ton of food, including a pizza. When the pizza arrived he said, “Oh, this is for you. It seemed like you needed some bread or rice or something…”
MY SECOND DATE IN JAPAN
[This different fellow] said, not two bites into dinner, “So, in Japan, we cut our eggplant like this with our chopsticks,” and excused himself as he reached across the table to struggle through the purple skin with his own pair. “Like this. If it’s too hard for you, you can eat it that way, but you should try to cut it like this.” It’s not like I was shish-kebabing chunks and stuffing them whole down my throat or anything.
I fought with my eggplant to the point where the inside schlooped out of the skin and slide around the plate in the sauce. He said, “When it gets to be that size, you can just eat the whole thing.”
On our second meeting (note I did not say date) he did a complete 180 and praised my chopsticks skills (and particularly my dismantling of a bony fish) so highly as to say I should be teaching manners lessons to Japanese people.
MY THIRD DATE IN JAPAN
Was not with a Japanese guy. It was with a European guy with whom I think I may have fallen completely in love; the tall, gorgeous, trilingualness of him all. Sadly he fell as well—only off the planet.
We ate some really good curry (my suggestion) and then afterward extended our time together (his suggestion) with coffee elsewhere. Parting ways on the metro platform was done with a lot of smiling and “see you again”ing but nothing ever came of it.
Definitely a brief stack of unread e-mails languishing in some cold dark corner of his inbox and I can’t say that this paragraph is completely unlike a missed connection Craigslist ad.
MY FOURTH DATE IN JAPAN
Another non-Japanese guy, but this time African. It was possibly the most harrowing date I’ve ever had, as I had to ask myself the question, “Would I win if this turned into a rape fight?” However, it takes two to tango and also rape fight.
I do believe if I had been swifter in responding to his sudden leaping on top of me, I could have avoided some of the rest of the near rape experience (carried out with such confidence and so deftly). This is also how I learn that anyone who gives their genitalia a personal pronoun will just sort of creep me out on principle (i.e. regardless of how near they are to forcing it on someone).
Thankfully after a bit more protest than should have been necessary, I escaped that episode. We went on to be mistaken for blood relatives later that afternoon just as I was getting rid of him. Us white people running around Tokyo, huh.